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NZXT Cryo E40 Cooler Review

Allen Ngo, 04/30/2012

Flexible Cooling. NZXT offers a simple cooling solution with adjustable dual 80mm USB-powered fans. Find out here if the budget notebook cooler is a worthwhile investment.

As many of our reviews demonstrate, notebooks can become quite the heat source. Certain models can easily reach surface temperatures above 40 or even 45 degrees C under load depending on ambient conditions, making for a less than comfortable user experience. Furthermore, generic laptop coolers can be hit or miss as the added cooling fan may not be properly positioned under the notebook for maximum efficiency.

California-based manufacturer NZXT, widely known for its offerings of enthusiast ATX tower cases, will be tackling this problem head-on with the upcoming Cryo E40 laptop cooler. Currently slated for a May launch, this lightweight $27.99 budget cooler will include low-power magnetic clasps and dual 80mm fans that users can freely move and adjust under the notebook to target the hottest and more troublesome spots. Laptop owners have long-noticed that notebook surface temperatures are not uniform, especially on the undersides where large temperature gradients often occur. In theory, the adaptable fans of the E40 should thus make the cooler more versatile and adaptable throughout a wider range of notebooks whilst providing optimum cooling performance.

In this review, we put the Cryo E40 to the test based on three basic categories: build quality, fan noise and performance. Ideally, a cooler should be long-lasting with relatively low fan noise, yet provide noticeable and tangible cooling results.

Quality

The E40 cooler can be reduced to 3 simple components: The dual fans, mesh metal plate and plastic base. The plate sits on top of the base and fits snugly via magnets while the dual fans are sandwiched in between and are also magnetically held in place to the plate. This means that the user must first lift the plate in order to rearrange the fans. Fortunately, we didn’t find this to be a problem as all the components fit tightly with no loose ends. As one would expect, the majority of the weight lies in the mesh plate itself.

The front edge of the cooler assembly is thinner than the back edge, similar to many other notebook stands. This will angle the notebook and keyboard for a more ergonomic position. The USB cable can be extended as well from the left or right side depending on where an available USB port is located, but we have noticed that the cabling can sometimes get caught in the spinning fans while rearranging if the user is not careful.

When taken as a whole, we found little fault in the build quality of the Cryo cooler, which is made more impressive given the target budget category of the product.

The Cryo E40 officially supports notebooks up to 15", but 17" models may work as well
The Cryo E40 officially supports notebooks up to 15", but 17" models may work as well
Construction quality is better than expected for an entry-level USB cooler
Construction quality is better than expected for an entry-level USB cooler
The metal plate includes two rubber bars for supporting the notebook
The metal plate includes two rubber bars for supporting the notebook
The angled chassis allows for a more ergonomic typing position
The angled chassis allows for a more ergonomic typing position
Eight magnets allow the plastic base to attach to the metal plate, but take caution as they can pop out with the plate!
Eight magnets allow the plastic base to attach to the metal plate, but take caution as they can pop out with the plate!
Dual 80mm fans draw power with a single corded USB connector
Dual 80mm fans draw power with a single corded USB connector
The USB cable can be adjusted to extend from the left or right side of the cooler
The USB cable can be adjusted to extend from the left or right side of the cooler
The completed assembly is held together taut with magnets
The completed assembly is held together taut with magnets

Noise

To test fan noise, we whipped out our 732A sound level meter from BK Precision set to a 15cm distance away from the sound source, which is the same instrumentation and practice that we do for a number of our notebook reviews.

Under complete silence, we recorded a background noise of 31.1dB. When we plugged in the cooler to our Samsung 900X3B Ultrabook (set to Silent Mode), we were able to record a fan noise of 39.4dB. Objectively, the E40 cooler can be louder than most (if not all) idling notebooks or notebooks that are otherwise performing basic word processing or web browsing tasks. Only when the notebook is under full load will it be likely to match or surpass the noise level produced by the dual 80mm fans of the E40. Noise-sensitive users may want to keep this in mind depending on the kind of environment they plan on using the cooler for.

From a subjective standpoint, the E40 cooler will be noticeable in quieter environments. Still, the fan noise is far from vexing and is certainly manageable in settings where background noise is unavoidable, such as in typical office settings or even when music is playing. Gaming notebooks that can easily reach >40dB when under load will cover up most of the noise from the E40.

Performance

We utilized the ultrathin 13.3-inch Samsung 900X3B for testing on the Cryo E40 cooler. The 900X3B, like its predecessor before it, is quiet and thin at the cost of higher running temperatures. The vent grilles are also directly underneath the notebook, meaning that the dual fans of the E40 can get direct access to the dense innards instead of blowing air just on the outer shell. In theory, this makes the Samsung one of the best choices to use on a cooler such as this.

The notebook was first stressed with FurMark and Prime95 simultaneously to generate the highest heat output possible and then we identified the hottest spots on the notebook for the best E40 fan positions. The stable surface temperatures with and without the NZXT cooler are then compared. We provide our subjective experiences below.

Indeed, the E40 performs admirably on cooling down the 900X3B. We position the fans directly underneath the fan grilles of the Samsung and experienced quite the drop in surface temperatures around the keyboard. In fact, we recorded an average 3 to 4 degrees C cooler on the keyboard surface with a Fluke IR Thermometer, which in itself is impressive.

The Samsung Ultrabook fits snugly on top without issues
The Samsung Ultrabook fits snugly on top without issues
The long cabling assures that the USB connection can reach an available port, regardless of the fan setup
The long cabling assures that the USB connection can reach an available port, regardless of the fan setup
The dual fans are positioned on the top left and top right of the notebook for direct access through the system grilles
The dual fans are positioned on the top left and top right of the notebook for direct access through the system grilles
Close-up of grille shows that this is where the internal hardware fans are located as well
Close-up of grille shows that this is where the internal hardware fans are located as well

Verdict

Whether or not the E40 will make for a worthwhile purchase will depend on the notebook at hand. Although the build quality, versatility and design of the NZXT cooler are excellent all around, its effectiveness may vary between notebooks. For example, the above Samsung works very well with the E40 cooler because the extra fans have direct airflow access to the internal system fans and processors. Certain notebooks with fan grilles that are located around the edges may not benefit as much from the cooler as the additional fans will merely be gusting air on the exterior only.

As such, the Cryo E40 cooler is certainly recommendable if not just for its leg up in flexibility when compared to competing notebook fan coolers. Temperature results may vary between notebooks, but for under $30, it’s a small investment with the potential of clear temperature improvements that users can actually feel.

For official product release info, check out NZXT's dedicated page here.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > NZXT Cryo E40 Cooler Review
Author: Allen Ngo, 2012-04-30 (Update: 2013-06- 6)